One of the things that really bothers the Discovery Institute is the general consensus among scientists about things they oppose — like the theory of evolution. So today they’re attacking the concept of consensus.
The new post at their creationist blog is Second Thought About the Idea of “Consensus”, written by Sarah Chaffee, whom we call “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
“Consensus science.” That is a phrase you hear invoked a lot, as if identifying a “consensus” should be enough to settle any scientific question. But sometimes scientists do not, in fact, follow the evidence. The consensus, then, could be wrong.
Aha — if the consensus could be wrong, that means there’s hope for the Discoveroids! Then she says:
In an article for Quilette, Professor Jonathan Anomaly [What?] at the University of Arizona writes, “I want to explore some explanations for why we might be justified in believing a hypothesis that scientists shy away from even when that hypothesis is consistent with the best available evidence.”
Quillette calls itself “a platform for free thought,” and the improbably named Jonathan Anomaly is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science. This is the article Savvy Sarah is talking about: The Politics of Science: Why Scientists Might Not Say What the Evidence Supports. She tells us:
He gives examples of situations where people reach conclusions based on extrinsic factors, leading them to mistaken conclusions.
She quotes a bit from the social scientist’s article. One example he gives involves Super Bowl parties. We’ll skip that. Another example is someone who got fired from Google because he “questioned is that men and women are identical in both abilities and interests.” Then she quotes his conclusion:
The logic of collective action is that when the costs of expressing a belief are borne by the individual, but the benefits are shared among all members of an epistemic community, it is perfectly rational to fail to reveal our beliefs about that topic, no matter how justified they might be.
That may be interesting social science, but it has nothing to do with actual science until the end — which we’ll get to later — and even then, Anomaly doesn’t discuss evolution and creationism. But Savvy Sarah is encouraged. She says:
Regarding the origins of the universe, of life, and of mankind, we see strong bias against following the evidence where it leads.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The only place we see such bias is at creationist websites. Then she quotes a bit from the end of Anomaly’s article:
Anomaly notes, “Science is the best method we have for understanding the world. But to the extent that its success requires a willingness to entertain ideas that conflict with our deepest desires, scientific progress on politically contentious topics tends to be slow.”
We didn’t get much out of his article, but Savvy Sarah likes it. She ends her post with this:
The opposition we encounter to entertaining evidence supporting intelligent design is not necessarily driven by hard scientific data. [Hee hee!] Instead, I think it is driven by politics and groupthink in the scientific community. So the next time you hear that there is a scientific consensus on evolution, be prepared to push back. Ask what that “consensus” is based on. The evidence? Or something else?
Instead of citing an essentially irrelevant social science article, it would be more helpful to their cause if the Discoveroids devoted their efforts to providing evidence against the theory of evolution. They never have and they never will, so all they can do is get whatever comfort they can find wherever they can find it.
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